There are two opposing films running simultaneously in David Gordon Green's Halloween, a reboot/sequel of an endlessly rebooted/sequelized series. One, led by Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role as Laurie Strode, pushes the horror genre into more cerebral, violent terror, with an eye on the very real effects of childhood trauma and assault. The other larger, dumber film drags that first one screaming back to the '80s.
Yeah, I know John Carpenter and Debra Hill's first Halloween was released in 1978, not the 1980s. But Green's film's slasher lineage doesn't even stretch back to his supposed source material; it's as if Halloween's knockoffs had replaced the original in the director's mind. What made the 1978 version work was the overwhelming sense of dread from being the third party to Michael Myers' surveillance of these teens. The serial killer watches, and sometimes we watch him watch, and other times we simply wait to see him watching. Too often, in this version, Green doesn't seem to know where to put the camera to elicit that sense of surveilling or being surveilled. Worse, that incompetence often works hand in hand with overwrought comic dialogue.
But let's get to what really works, here: Curtis. We meet Laurie in her super-sealed woodsy compound, almost 40 years to the day after the 1978 murders. Laurie is a tactical assassin now, training in knives, combat and armory, but not so adept that it becomes implausible. But whoever made the decision to slash up some hot and horny teens to round out the movie has seriously undercut what might have been a horror achievement of weight and importance.